Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Feeds and Feeding of Snails (Aquarium Snails)

Feeds and Feeding of Snails (Aquarium Snails)

Snail Eggs:  

Generally, the eggs of snails are lemon yellow in colour and resemble small bird’s eggs.  The eggs hatch usually within 30 days.  Young adult snails lay more eggs than old ones. Where to get snails for your farm: The farmer can gather wild snails from nearby bushes for use in his farm.  He could also buy from people who gather and sell wild snails.  Snails could equally be bought from another snail farmer in his locality.  
Snails bought from the open market should never be farmed.  These are of doubtful quality and may soon die shortly after introduction into the pens (Awe, 2003).

2.1.11 Feeds and Feeding of Aquarium Snails: 

Snails are voracious feeders and may consume about 10 times their body weight of leafy vegetable or plant material every day.  To be successful in snail farming, the farmer must ensure a steady uninterrupted supply of foodstuffs to his snails throughout the snail growing season (Awe, 2003).

2.1.12 Food Plants: 

Snails feed on a wide variety of cultivated and wild plants.  Young tender green leaves as well as dead and decaying leaves are eaten.  Green leaves of Amaranthus, cocoyam, cassava, lettuce, cabbage, fluted pumpkin, hibiscus, are all eaten by snails (Awe, 2003).  Before beginning, the farmer should find out what plants his snails like to eat.  He can thus get information from an experienced snail farmer in his locality.  He can also with his lantern watch snails at night and see what they are eating.  Different plant materials could be dropped in the pen and by trial and error, he could find out which ones the snail would prefer. Fruit Trees as shelter and food Plants: Some fruit trees provide shelter as well as food for snails.  Banana, plantain, mango, pawpaw, sweet oranges, cocoa etc serve dual purpose of providing shelter as well as fruits (Awe, 2003).  Snails prefer feeding on over ripe fruits of these trees.  Ripe oil palm fruits, broken pods, seeds and seedlings of cocoa are also consumed by snails. Generally, snails usually hide on shelter plants during the day when it is dry and move to food plants to eat at night or early in the morning when they are wet with dew (Awe, 2003).
Other Feeds: Snails also feed on synthetic diets containing a good amount of protein, calcium and phosphorus.  An example of such diet is poultry marsh.  Wet poultry droppings, rotten vegetables and dead animals are all consumed by snails.  Apart from the items mentioned here, there are many other foods for snails.
A reasonable amount of snails will actually help you to keep the water quality up in the aquarium while simultaneously keeping algae growth in check (Robert, 2000). Snails are highly dedicated cleaners that will get into a lot of nooks and crannies where catfish wouldn’t bother. Keeping the water quality up in a breeding aquarium is often of extreme importance and introducing a scavenger will help you with this. The problem with scavenging snail species is however that many of them like to eat fish eggs. Even fish species that normally stick to an herbivore diet can be tempted by the look of tasty fish eggs. Snails are however much less fond of eating healthy fish eggs and are therefore a good choice of scavenger in a breeding aquarium. Yes, snails do eat plants, but most species actually leave healthy plants alone and prefer to feed on dead and decaying plant matter that would only end up fouling your water anyway. Healthy plants tend to produce cyanides and other poisons and are therefore not appreciated by most snails. There is however exceptions to this rule, e.g. the Pond snail, which should never be introduced to the aquarium since they can rapidly devour even healthy plants (Awe, 2003).
The myth that snails destroys plants probably originates from their habit of settling on dying plants and rapidly multiplying there due to the abundance of food offered by a plant that is already dying. Snails also like to graze on algae growing on plant leaves and this can naturally look as if they are munching away at the plant itself, when they are in fact only ridding the plant of algae. Even though snails can be a good addition to most aquariums, their numbers must be kept in check. There are also certain species, including the abovementioned Pond snail, that need to be eradicated completely if you keep a planted aquarium. Snails are especially prone to multiply rapidly in hard alkaline water and the aquarist must therefore pay special attention to their numbers in such aquariums. Snails need the minerals to form their shells and too soft and acidic conditions can actually cause the shell to dissolve and leave the snail completely unprotected from predators. One of the reasons why snails can multiply like crazy in an aquarium is of course that they lack natural predators. In the wild, the amount of snails is constantly kept in check by various snail-eating species in their normal habitat. In every biotope where you can find snails, you can also find animals that have turned into skilled snail-hunters. In Asia, you can for instance encounter the beautiful Clown Loach (Botia macracanthus). Introduce a group of Clown Loaches in your snail infested aquarium and watch them as they skillfully grab the unprotected soft part of the snail and suck the entire animal out of its protective shell. In the ocean, the Pufferfish has developed a completely different tactic and will use its strong jaws to crush the shell of the snail before devouring the soft parts.   Run hot water over a lettuce leaf and place it on the bottom of the aquarium just before you turn the lights out. You may have to tie something to the leaf to prevent it from floating, or jam it under a stone. Before you turn on the lights in the morning, pick up the lettuce leaf and all the snails that cover it. You need to repeat this every night until the snail population is under control. If you want to speed up the process, use several lettuce leaves each night. Aquarium Snails are cold-blooded animals and therefore sensitive to changes in atmospheric humidity and temperature. Aquarium Snails thrive best on temperature of about 10-23°C (Albequerque et al., 2009). Snail meats are a delicacy in diets of people in Southern Nigeria (Ebenso and Ebenso, 2011). Mollusc has been reported to implication as vehicles for human infections caused by E. coli as one the enteric bacteria. The E. coli have been reported to have long-term survival in manure, soil and pasture (Fenlon et al., 2000). 

Agbonlahor et al. (1994) while investigating the bacteriology of edible African snails in the town of Ekpoma, Irrua, Iruekpen and Benin city all in Edo State, Nigeria isolated various Enterobacterceae organism thereby creating awareness on the possible public health risks that may result in the consumption of improperly processed snail meat. These organisms may remain in snails not as pathogens but as normal flora, but they can also cause diseases if eaten raw or improperly cooked.  According to WHO (2009) estimates 200,000 deaths from food borne pathogens (especially Salmonella and E.coli). There is a very close association between snails and microbes because of their habit filth, sewage and rotten materials. It is therefore not surprising the high level of microbial interaction with water snails, making them to become naturally contaminated with pathogens from filth in which they live (Fagburo et al., 2006). Significant numbers of aquarium snails are sold to the public and if carrying salmonella, these snails may present a public health risk similar to that presented by the aquarium turtles. It was reported that food safety and public health officials attribute a rise in the incidence of food borne illness to changes in demographics and consumer life style that affect the way food is prepared and stored (Collins, 1997).

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